Here are some new shows on Showmax to add to your watchlist this December.
1st seasons of Poker Face, The Winter King, Blue Lights; new World On Fire, How To With John Wilson
POKER FACE S1 | Binge from 11 December
Four-time Emmy nominee Natasha Lyonne (Russian Doll, Orange Is The New Black) is on the case in Poker Face, a Peacock Original mystery from Oscar-nominated creator Rian Johnson (Knives Out, Glass Onion, Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi).
Lyonne plays Charlie Cale, a casino worker with an extraordinary ability to detect lies. After a close friend is murdered, she hits the road in her Plymouth Barracuda. At every stop, she encounters a new cast of characters and strange crimes she can’t help but investigate and solve.
The all-star cast includes Oscar winner Adrien Brody (The Grand Budapest Hotel), Oscar nominees Hong Chau (The Whale), Nick Nolte (Warrior) and Chloë Sevigny (Big Love), Emmy winners Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Inception), Ellen Barkin (Animal Kingdom), and Cherry Jones (Succession), and Emmy nominees Benjamin Bratt (Law & Order), Ron Perlman (Hellboy) and Judith Light (The Menu, Shining Vale).
Poker Face is the 10th best-reviewed series of 2023 on Rotten Tomatoes, with a 98% critic’s rating, and is up for four Emmys, including Lead Actress (Lyonne) and Guest Actress (Light).
WORLD ON FIRE S2 | Binge from 20 December
Four years after its acclaimed first season (thanks to Covid-19 delays), the World War II series World on Fire is back for a second season.
Starring Jonah Hauer-King (Prince Eric in The Little Mermaid and Laurie Laurence in Little Women), Oscar nominee Lesley Manville (Mrs Harris Goes to Paris, The Crown, Phantom Thread), and an ensemble cast, World on Fire Season 2 is set between 1940 and 1941, taking us from the war-torn streets of Britain and the start of The Blitz in Manchester deep into Nazi Germany, the resistance within occupied France, and the brutal sands of the North African desert, including the Siege of Tobruk and Operation Compass.
Season 2 has a 100% critics’ rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with The Guardian’s calling it, “totally gripping” and saying, “This hugely ambitious attempt to show the war through the lives of ordinary people has an immaculate grasp of tension and character. To watch is to be fully invested in these peoples’ fate.”
THE WINTER KING S1| First On Showmax | Mondays from 4 December
Before Britain, there was King Arthur…
Set amid the brutality of the 5th Century in a land of warring factions and tribes, The Winter King follows Arthur Pendragon (BAFTA Scotland nominee Iain De Caestecker, aka Leopold Fitz/The Doctor in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.) as he evolves from outcast son to legendary warrior, leader and ultimately, legend.
An epic revisionist take on the well-loved Arthurian legends, The Winter King is based on The Warlord Chronicles trilogy by Bernard Cornwell, and has an 82% critics’ rating on Rotten Tomatoes. As the critics’ consensus says, “Action-packed and sprawling in scope, The Winter King compensates for its lack of fidelity to Bernard Cornwell’s books with sheer entertainment value.”
The cast includes award winner Valene Kane (Gangs of London) as Morgan,Olumide Olorunfemi (Venom: Let There Be Carnage) as Lunette, award winner Tatjana Nardone (Devils, Medici) as Ladwys, Ken Nwosu (Christopher Robin, The Witches, Killing Eve, The Letter for the King) as Sagramor, and award winner Nathaniel Martello-White (Collateral, Deceit, I Hate Suzie) as Merlin, with former Cape Town model Jordan Alexandra (Surprised by Oxford) as Guinevere. Also look out for Screen Actors’ Guild Award nominee Daniel Ings (The Crown, I Hate Suzie) as Owain, Ellie James (Girl/Haji, I May Destroy You) as Nimue, and Billy Postlethwaite (Silo, 1917) as Cadwys, with Teen Choice nominee Eddie Marsan (The Thief, His Wife and the Canoe) as Uther.
SHINING VALE S2 | First on Showmax | Binge from 4 December
Season 2 of Shining Vale promises a Phelps family reunion like no other. The story picks up four months later, with Pat (Emmy-nominated Scream queen and Friends star Courteney Cox) being released from the psychiatric hospital early and returning home, determined to pick up the pieces of her broken family. But she quickly finds out her children (Gus Birney from Dickinson and Dylan Gage from PEN15) don’t need her, and her husband Terry (Oscar nominee Greg Kinnear from As Good As It Gets and Little Miss Sunshine) doesn’t remember her – thanks to that little brain injury.
To make matters worse, Pat’s new neighbour looks uncannily like Season 1’s resident spectre, Rosemary (Oscar winner Mira Sorvino from Mighty Aphrodite, Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion), and the house is starting to reveal the shocking secrets of its dark past…
Four-time Emmy nominee Judith Light (tick, tick…BOOM!, Transparent, Ugly Betty, and Who’s the Boss?) returns as Pat’s mom, Joan, with Screen Actors’ Guild Award nominee Merrin Dungey (Big Little Lies, Alias) as her editor, Kam. Emmy nominees Sherilyn Fenn (Twin Peaks) and Allison Tolman (Why Women Kill, Fargo) are also among the cast this season.
Shining Vale won the 2022 Saturn Award for Best Fantasy Television Series, with nominations for Best Actress and Best Performance by a Younger Actor for Cox and Birney respectively. Cox was also named Best Actress in a Comedy at last year’s Women’s Image Network Awards, where the show won Outstanding Comedy Series.
Created by Emmy-nominated writer and executive producer Sharon Horgan (Bad Sisters) and Writers Guild of America Award nominee Jeff Astrof (Trial & Error, The New Adventures of Old Christine), Shining Vale is once again helmed by an all-female line-up of directors, with Cox producing.
BLUE LIGHTS S1 | Binge from 11 December
Set in Belfast in Northern Ireland, Blue Lights follows three rookie police officers who find themselves up against criminal gangs, undercover agents, their own communities and even their own police force as they work to complete the last two months of their probationary period.
Blue Lights has an 89% critics’ rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with five-star reviews from both The Daily Telegraph and The Guardian, with the latter calling the series “well-crafted, fantastically tense, thrilling stuff,” and “one of the best shows of the year”.
The BBC police procedural is led by award nominee Sian Brooke (Guilt, Good Omens) and newcomers Katherine Devlin and Nathan Braniff, with the likes of Irish Film and Television Award winner Martin McCann (Last Sentinel, The Survivalist), Screen Actors Guild nominee Richard Dormer (Game of Thrones), and award winners Valene Kane (Gangs of London, The Winter King) and Andi Osho (I May Destroy You, The Sandman) co-starring.
HOW TO WITH JOHN WILSON S2 | Binge from 20 December
The third and final season of the zany, hilarious, and widely acclaimed HBO Original docu-comedy series How To With John Wilson follows documentary filmmaker and self-described “anxious New Yorker” John Wilson. Continuing his heartfelt mission of self-discovery, exploration, and observation, Wilson films the lives of his fellow New Yorkers while attempting to give everyday advice on six new deceptively simple and wildly random topics, from how to find a public restroom to how to work out to how to clean your ears. Obviously.
Nominated for a 2022 Emmy for Outstanding Writing for a Nonfiction Program, How To With John Wilson boasts a consistent 100% critics’ rating on Rotten Tomatoes across all three seasons, with the Season 3 critics’ consensus saying, “Still subversive but taking on new layers of emotional resonance, John Wilson’s opus demonstrates exactly how to bring a labour of love to a satisfying finish.”
The Guardian calls it “miraculous”, saying, “Every episode of this visual essay is an absolute masterpiece – like nothing else on television… One of the finest shows to come out of the US in years… A complete modern reinvention of the visual essay form, something funny and profound and head-spinningly human, a glimpse of New York City from an angle it’s never been seen before, at grubby street level and round freakish little corners.”
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